Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani helped Japan win a third World Baseball Classic crown / © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani will make a one-season Major League Baseball record $65 million this year in salary and endorsements, Forbes magazine reported on Tuesday.
Ohtani, set to be the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels in their MLB season opener Thursday against Oakland, helped spark Japan to the World Baseball Classic title a week ago with a victory over the United States in the final.
The 28-year-old who serves as an outfielder and designated hitter when not on the mound, signed a one-year contract extension worth $30 million last year and will make $35 million in endorsements in 2023, Forbes reported.
That's a huge jump from only $6 million in 2021 sponsorship deals and $20 million last year.
While the numbers already make Ohtani the highest-paid played in the sport, the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player is set to become a free agent after the upcoming campaign and expected to receive one of the richest contracts in MLB history for 2024 and beyond.
"Shohei's commercial impact annually for the Japanese market will be to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, because he is a cultural icon in Japan first and a baseball player second," Chris Davis, New Balance's chief marketing officer, told Forbes.
"He'll probably be the first and only baseball player of this generation that has the ability to have that level of commercial impact for a brand."
In 2022, Ohtani went 15-9 with a 2.33 earned-run average and 219 strikeouts over 166 innings. He had a .273 batting average with 34 home runs, 30 doubles and 95 runs batted in over 157 games.
MLB's 10 highest-paid players are set to make a record $436 million this year, up 15% from last year's record mark of $377 million, Forbes reported.
A major reason for the leap was the $3.8 billion MLB clubs spent on free agent contracts for the 2023 season.
Among these deals was a nine-year contract worth $360 million for 2022 AL MVP Aaron Judge to stay with the New York Yankees and pitcher Justin Verlander's $86.7 million two-year deal with the New York Mets.
Verlander and teammate Max Scherzer have the top on-field contract totals for 2023 at $43.3 million.
Scherzer ranked second on the 2023 highest-paid players list at $59.3 million, bolstered by $15 million in deferred salary payments from the Washington Nationals, whom he helped win the 2019 World Series.
Judge was third at $44.5 million, including $4.5 million in endorsements, with Verlander fourth on $44.3 million and Mike Trout of the Angels fifth on $39.5 million.
Trout, who just announced a deal with golf star Tiger Woods to build a course in his home state of New Jersey, was struck out by Ohtani for the last out in the Classic final to clinch Japan's third crown in five tries in the global baseball event.